Most of you know that I have a part-time day job, to which I go about once or twice a week and look at sparkly things all day, er, I mean—sell jewelry. I picked it up last Christmas to earn a little extra cash during the slow time in the writing industry. Up until that point, I had worked day in and day out from home, completely alone save for the pups curled at my feet. Living so far from civilization as we do, I rarely left the house, and my poor husband became my portal to the real world.
When he came home after a long day at the office, I would immediately accost him. “How are you? How was your day? What did you do? Who did you talk to? Anything new in anyone’s life? PLEASE TALK TO ME!!
Poor Kirk. A talker he is not (see how perfect we are for each other?), but he struggled to answer my questions with something other than fine, fine, not much, not really, and not that I know of. He’s a trooper, but even so, I started picturing myself at an old school typewriter, typing the same line over and over again: All work an no play makes Erin a dull girl.
So yeah, I got a job. It was actually a big leap for me—I had never worked in retail before. I was at least choosing something I loved—jewelry—but it wasn’t as though I was any sort of expert on the subject. Still, it was fairly close (if 40 minutes is close), I was familiar with the store after being a customer for almost 5 years, and, best of all, they offered to hire me (bird in the hand, and all that).
And you know what? I loved it! It was actually great to get out of the house for a real purpose, to put on makeup and wear nice clothes, and to bring home a semi-regular paycheck. But most of all, it was wonderful just to have the opportunity and reason to talk to people. I was happy to see each person who walked in the door, plus my coworkers were great. They devoured anything I brought to share (doesn’t that make a baker feel good?) and indulged my need to engage in conversation.
At the day job, as I came to call it, I had eight guilt-free hours to NOT think about writing, my characters, plot points, and keeping up with industry news. It was wonderful to use an entirely different skill set, allowing myself to simply be personable, to pick out pretty things, and to help people find that perfect something for the loved ones in their lives.
And, happily, I found that I was good at it. That was especially nice back before I had a contract or even an agent. For a struggling writer who felt as though I had spent the preceding year and a half in a vacuum of uncertainty, it was a confidence booster to have something I could point to and definitively say that I was successful at it. And it was fun! People almost always buy jewelry for a happy occasion: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. Chatting about what made a purchase special for that person makes me happy. And for the not-so-happy times, it was almost always something poignant that gave me a watery smile. A locket to house a picture of a lost love one, sizing of a ring passed down as an inheritance, a breast cancer awareness charm to show solidarity.
At this job, I discovered a different side of myself. I didn’t know I’d be a good salesperson, or that customers would remember me a full year later when they came back in for Christmas. I learned I wanted the *right* sale much more than the *priciest* sale. I learned that I am satisfied with a job well done whether it is a well-written story, a yummy cupcake, or a happy customer.
When I started at the jewelry store, I would be quick to tell people that it wasn’t my ‘real’ job, that I was a writer by trade and only worked there for fun. I was a college grad, after all, and this job was just a hobby.
And, guess what? After a year working at my jewelry store, I recently learned that I am being promoted to diamond sales! Helping people pick out engagement rings? What could be more romantic than that! It was wonderful news for me, something I didn’t expect it at all since I work so little. But the true joy of the promotion was knowing that my work there was appreciated, and that they really want me to be there. That, my dears, is a very nice feeling indeed.
Perhaps I’ll buy a piece of jewelry to celebrate ;)
How else am I going to celebrate? With crepes!! Seriously, we bought a crepe pan and everything. Tonight the experiment begins using Alton Brown's recipe - stay tuned for recipe success (I hope)!